Mizzen+Main Short Sleeve Seersucker

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by Mizzen+Main.

Mizzen+Main has been around for a while, specializing in men’s synthetic dress and casual collared shirts. While they have branched out like many of the established brands, their shirts remain their specialty.

As part of our search for great short sleeve summer shirts, I got the opportunity to give the Mizzen+Main Hartley, a short sleeve seersucker button down shirt, a try.

Material

You’ve probably think of seersucker in a summer suit, but it can be used in other garments as well. Traditional seersucker is 100% cotton with a bumpy texture that comes from how the threads are woven. The texture of the fabric helps keep it away from the skin, helping with air circulation. While not as airy (or wrinkly) as linen, seersucker is an age-old solution for a summer fabric.

Mizzen+Main took an updated approach to seersucker for the fabric on this shirt. While retaining the bumpy texture and traditional stripe pattern, they made the fabric with 68% cotton, 27% polyester for moisture wicking, and 5% spandex for two-way stretch. Overall, the fabric looks and feels like cotton with the hidden benefit of stretch for a little extra movement.

Fit

One advantage of Mizzen+Main products is that they come in a variety of cuts (standard, trim, and trim tall). I found the XL Trim to work well for me across the chest, but the sleeves were a bit larger in diameter than I usually like in a short sleeve shirt and the length was a bit long to look neat while untucked. Since the XL Trim works well for me in the long sleeve shirts, I imagine the sleeve size is just the nature of the cut of this shirt.

Performance

The combination of the bumpy texture and polyester content of the fabric makes this shirt always look presentable right out of the wash (cold & hang dry). While the wrinkles from the package did not fall out on their own, I have never had to worry about wrinkles after the first wash.

I gave this shirt a run for it’s money over the last few weeks with the hot and humid weather we’ve been having (90 °F+) and I must say I was pretty impressed. Having high cotton content, I did not expect to like this shirt.

I found the seersucker to work as advertised — it felt airy since it was held away from my skin. The polyester kept the shirt from feeling damp, although I could still feel sweat between my skin and the shirt. My guess is that the shirt was just not absorbing as much sweat due to the texture.

As far as odor resistance, I was also surprised to be able to wear this shirt a second day after airing it out overnight. I started to notice some sweat stains around the collar and under the arms before any smell (the sweat stains easily wash out).

While it will never perform like a merino or 100% synthetic shirt, it looked normal while keeping me cool and more comfortable than a traditional cotton shirt.

Overall

While the shirt isn’t my style, I was pleasantly surprised with it’s performance. It definitely wore better than the 68% cotton content would suggest.

I’m not sure that I would pay the $110 retail price, but if you like the looks and find it for the right price it makes for a decent summer shirt.

Mizzen+Main Short Sleeve Seersucker

Y Athletics SilverAir Merino T-Shirt

The item in this review was provided for review purposes by Y Athletics.

Just about five years ago, Y Athletics launched their synthetic SilverAir Crew Neck on Kickstarter. We reviewed the shirt and were won over by the comfort and odor resistance. Just this week, they launched the next generation SilverAir shirt — the SilverAir Merino T-Shirt.

I’ve been testing a prototype of the shirt since May and the production version for about two weeks. I think this shirt is going to be a game changer for not just the workout shirt market but the t-shirt market as a whole.

Fabric

Y Athletics designed the double sided SilverAir Merino fabric specifically for this shirt. The inside is 17.5 micron merino wool with pure silver threads running throughout, while the outside is plated with nylon. This gives the best of both worlds without the sacrifice of a blend — odor, thermal, and moisture control on the inside with excellent drape, hand feel, and durability on the outside. The knit is extremely open (without any issues of being see-thru) to allow for airflow making for a very lightweight shirt.

Comfort

I’ve worn this shirt as both a workout and an everyday shirt, and it has outperformed any other shirt I own. The seamless construction of the body eliminates many potential areas for chafing. The sleeves are raglan style (for range of motion and comfort) and attached with flatlock stitching — no chafing there either.

After the fabric, the next most impressive feature of the shirt is the hidden mesh ventilation panels running under the arms and down the sides of the shirt. Just like the synthetic shirt, the mesh in no way makes those areas of the shirt see through. The panels are all but invisible on the black shirt and are just slightly noticeable on the blue (and I imagine the grey as well). This is due to the merino and the nylon taking dye differently.

Comparison of the ventilation panels on the blue and black.
Comparison of the ventilation panels on the blue and black shirts.

Performance

This shirt resists odors just like a 100% merino shirt. It’s the first time I’ve had a non-100% merino shirt that needs to be washed because it looks dirty rather than because it smells. The combination of being 100% merino with silver threads on the inside makes it act like a full merino shirt in the odor department. The other benefit of the silver threads is that they won’t wash out like the silver treatments used on other clothing.

As far as moisture management, this shirt excels as compared to a 100% merino or merino blend shirt. Nothing will feel as light in an intense and sweaty workout as a synthetic shirt, but the thinness of the merino layer here makes all the difference. Since merino works by absorbing moisture into the fiber versus polyester and nylon repelling the moisture, a merino shirt tends to get more weighted down by sweat during a workout.

The nylon plating also imparts great durability to this shirt. I have not seen any indications of pilling (which I’ve seen pretty quickly on the armpits of some merino shirts from working out). I wouldn’t hesitate to wear this shirt for rucking or travel with a backpack.

Fit and Finish

The design of this shirt allows for universal wear — it can go from the gym to the weekend. Compared to the original SilverAir shirt, the fit is a little closer to the body and the collar closer to the neck giving it a more tailored and polished look.

The drape and handfeel are also excellent. It wears like a cotton t-shirt, it blends in. When I first heard about the nylon face, I expected at least some nylon sheen, but the finish is actually very matte. The team definitely worked hard on this as I even saw improvement between the prototype and production versions.

There is just one caveat with the black color — the silver threads show through just a little bit (again the team was able to improve this between the prototype and production versions). While some may not even notice or not care, this is worth mentioning if you are trying to choose a color and want to be able to wear the shirt in many situations.

While the color is off on the blue, this is an accurate comparison of how the silver thread shows through the black.
While the color does not show correctly on the blue, this is an accurate comparison of how the silver thread shows through the black but not the blue shirt.

Overall

The SilverAir Merino T-Shirt is a huge upgrade from the original synthetic version. It has become my most worn workout and all-around t-shirt. With excellent odor resistance and drape it fits in almost anywhere. If you’ve been thinking about merino but are worried about the durability, this is your shirt. There are no tradeoffs on merino performance to gain durability.

The Kickstarter runs through September 6th, and at $49 the shirt is a steal. Even at the retail price of $69, this shirt represents a great value and is set to make waves in the industry.

Y Athletics SilverAir Merino T-Shirt

Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt

A staple item among Outlier fans is their Ultrafine Merino T-shirt, which is a 100% merino shirt made for daily wear. I own two, and have been wearing them for quite some time. These are my favorite t-shirt without any caveats.

Material

As mentioned, this is a 100% merino shirt made from 17.5 micron wool. It comes in at a heavier 195 gsm. However, these specs sell the fabric short — there’s a reason why Outlier dedicates a full four paragraphs to talking about this merino. It’s simply not like other merino.

The key to understanding the difference is in this line from Outlier:

This means a standard 17.5 micron fabric will actually include much larger fibers in the mix. The Mackenzie blend is tight spectrum and low variance to create a more consistent and precise yarn. More importantly the Mackenzie 17.5 is top capped at 17.5 microns, there are no larger fibers making it a softer and smoother fabric, and in fact the yarns and fabric actually average a number lower than 17.5 micron.

In other words, it may be 17.5 micron merino, but it feels a lot finer to your hand. The best I can do at describing it is: luxuriously soft. It’s like a cotton t-shirt that is so soft it feels like it is falling apart, all while feeling substantial.

Cut

Most of Outlier’s clothing is cut rather tailored, but not this t-shirt. I find the cut to be on the boxy side, though not overly so. It’s on par with most every t-shirt I have.

This is both good and bad. A more tapered cut would be nice, but would also make the shirt stand out more. As it is, it looks like a normal t-shirt, nothing to see here.

Comfort

These are the most comfortable t-shirts I own, without a doubt. I’ve worn them in 80 °F heat, playing capture the flag with kids, and remained comfortable. Did I sweat? Yes, however it dried fast and I didn’t feel like I had to get the shirt off my body.

The fabric has all the classic properties of merino wool, with the added benefit of the softest hand-feel for merino that I have ever encountered. I would wear this shirt everyday all day if I could. As it is, I wear mine quite a lot.

Overall

I’ll say it again, these are my favorite shirts. Soft, odor-resistant, thermoregulating, fast drying, and all of the above. They are also very soft and look quite nice. Accounting for all shirts I’ve worn, and not just performance minded ones, these are the most luxurious feeling shirts I’ve ever owned.

At $110 they can be a tough pill to swallow, but I could easily get away with just the two I own. I’ve had them for over a year and they are just as good as they were when I got them.

Outlier Ultrafine Merino T-Shirt

Merrell and New Balance Minimalist Shoes

Minimalist shoes have become popular for one bag travel due to their thin sole and packable nature. Part of how they accomplish this is by having zero or low drop. Drop is the measurement of the difference in height between the heel and the forefoot of the shoe. We won’t go into the health claims here, but Altra has a good primer.

For me, minimalist zero drop shoes help me feel more connected to the ground (important for the gym) and are very packable (due to their thin soles and minimal padding). I’ve had two pairs for a few years now and I’ve come to love them for casual, travel, and gym wear.

Merrell Trail Glove

I own the Trail Glove 3, but they are very similar to the newer model, the Merrell Trail Glove 4. These are true zero drop shoes. After adjusting, these became my everyday casual shoe for everything from walking to light hiking. The mesh allows them to breathe well and the Vibram sole performs well in all weather conditions. They also have a wide toe box which adds to the comfort — your toes have room to spread out into their natural placement. Best of all, they pack down almost flat due to the light nature of the uppers and come in an almost all-black colorway.

New Balance Minimus

I also own the New Balance Minimus MX20BS4, while they have a 4 mm drop they feel very close to zero drop. I use these as my gym shoes, specifically for lifting and rowing where connection through your feet is important for proper technique. They also have a Vibram sole, which makes for a solid footing on any surface. The mesh upper, while breathable, is not as cool as the Trail Glove due to the higher level of a synthetic coating on the outside. These also pack down almost flat, but don’t come in as dark of a colorway.

Why should I pack shoes when one bagging?

Most likely, you shouldn’t. One of the easiest ways to save room in your bag is to not pack any shoes. It isn’t too hard to find shoes nowadays that will fit all our needs (look for an all, or mostly, black sneaker or a leather boot — see our packing lists for some ideas).

When you do need to pack an extra pair (I often need proper dress shoes or safety shoes when I travel for work), minimalist shoes make it less painful.

Conclusion

Merrell and New Balance both have whole lines of minimalist shoes with quite a few options. If you can’t find something you like there, this style of shoe is becoming more and more popular. While zero drop minimalist shoes take some adjustment, I have come to prefer them for casual and gym wear. If you are looking for a shoe that is easy to pack and you want to try out zero drop, these two shoes are a great place to start.

Merrell and New Balance Minimalist Shoes